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Dancing in Cadillac Light

Cover of Dancing in Cadillac Light

Dancing in Cadillac Light

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Whenever her feelings get the best of her, Jaynell Lambert climbs into an old junker in Clifton Bailey's Automobile Salvage and Parts and pretends to drive away. It's the summer of 1968, and within a year the dirt road in front of her house will be paved, Grandpap will move in, and men will walk on the moon. It's enough to make anyone wonder. But for now, Jaynell, her sister, Racine, and their parents live with dust and potholes, dreaming of their lives turning into something grand.

Grandpap's moving in shouldn't mean much more than Jaynell giving up her room and setting another place at the table. But when he goes out and buys a 1962 emerald green Cadillac convertible, nothing is the same again.

Kimberly Willis Holt has written an unforgettable story of dreams and legacies, capturing a time when all of America joined together to watch the first man walk in the moon. A time when a Cadillac and the legacy of an old man could transform a family and show them how to dance.


From the Compact Disc edition.

Whenever her feelings get the best of her, Jaynell Lambert climbs into an old junker in Clifton Bailey's Automobile Salvage and Parts and pretends to drive away. It's the summer of 1968, and within a year the dirt road in front of her house will be paved, Grandpap will move in, and men will walk on the moon. It's enough to make anyone wonder. But for now, Jaynell, her sister, Racine, and their parents live with dust and potholes, dreaming of their lives turning into something grand.

Grandpap's moving in shouldn't mean much more than Jaynell giving up her room and setting another place at the table. But when he goes out and buys a 1962 emerald green Cadillac convertible, nothing is the same again.

Kimberly Willis Holt has written an unforgettable story of dreams and legacies, capturing a time when all of America joined together to watch the first man walk in the moon. A time when a Cadillac and the legacy of an old man could transform a family and show them how to dance.


From the Compact Disc edition.

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    1
  • Library copies:
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  • Reading Level:
    7 - 12

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Chapter one
    Driving My Troubles Away

    Grandpap came to live with us the day after the highway men arrived to blacktop our road. It was July--hot as cinders. Uncle Floyd called July "Wet Dog Days" because all month long the air smelled like a stinky mutt caught in the rain. But that day not even the heat could keep me cooped up inside like a setting hen. I wasn't about to miss the excitement. We lived on one of the last dirt roads in Moon, Texas. The only blacktop roads in Moon stretched in front of the rich folks' homes, leaving us to live with the dust and potholes.

    All my life I'd heard Daddy say, "Those Dyers always thought they were better than us 'cause they lived on a blacktop road." The Dyers got everything first in Moon--a color TV, a private phone line, a brand-new Cadillac. I thought the gravel truck making its way down Cypress Road would transform our lives into something grand.

    Before Momma ordered me to do the breakfast dishes with my sister, Racine, I escaped next door and hopped inside one of Mr. Bailey's cars to wait for the gravel truck. Clifton Bailey's Automobile Salvage and Parts was the most amazing place in Moon. Junk cars were parked in his yard, and piles of rusty parts and patched tires were scattered about like lost treasure.

    Two years ago I took to sneaking over to Clifton Bailey's and slipping into one of his junkers. The whole while, I tried to keep a lookout for Mr. Bailey, but one day he caught me red-handed. He narrowed his crossed eyes and frowned while I sat there with my hands stuck to the steering wheel.

    Finally he laughed. "Jaynell, anytime you take a notion, you just pick out a car and drive your heart away."And I did. I drove everywhere, covering miles and miles, even though none of the cars actually ran. Usually I drove when I felt so full I couldn't hold my feelings inside me without popping a vein. Like when Racine made me mad enough to commit bloody murder, or when Grandma died and I was determined not to shed one tear, or when the newsman talked about how one day soon a man would walk on the moon. Just the thought of that made me feel like I could bust.

    Leaning back against the seat, eyes closed, chin up, hands wrapped around the steering wheel, I moved beyond the dirt roads, away from Moon, into Marshall to rescue Grandpap from Aunt Loveda's. We'd head down to Highway 80, which stretched across Texas, and we'd be riding in a big fancy car, the kind that made people sit up and take notice, like the Dyers' Cadillac. After our trip, we'd return to Grandpap's homeplace.

    I hadn't been to the homeplace since Grandma died, and I missed it something fierce. The homeplace was just a little house on two tiny acres, but I loved everything inside and out. The tree house in the tall oak tree that I used to pretend was a rocket, the corner bookshelf in the living room with Grandpap's Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey westerns, the smell of coffee brewing on the stove and Hungry Jack biscuits baking in the oven.Grandma always joked, "Ain't no use making them from scratch when they're twice as good coming from a can." She'd serve them with real butter and a spoon of Blackburn's strawberry preserves. Sometimes when she was in a homemade baking mood, she'd make M&M brownies.

    Last month after Grandma died, Grandpap sat around his house in his underwear and wouldn't eat. He didn't speak to anybody, not even me. That's when Aunt Loveda and Uncle Floyd took Grandpap from his homeplace on the outskirts of Moon to live with them in their brand-new four-bedroom ranch house in Marshall. Aunt Loveda said her brick home had a lot of room to move around in, which was a good thing because...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine It's 1968 in Moon, Texas. The wet-dog summer days find Jaynelle Lambert and her increasingly unpredictable Grandpap behind the wheel of a 1962 emerald green Cadillac convertible, cruising the steamy fields and roads to assuage their grief over Grandma's death. Kimberly J. Brown's squeaky Texas drawl breathes life into tough 11-year-old Jaynelle ("Boy" to her father; "Raccoon Gal" to Grandpap). She cares not for the girly things that her younger sister Racine lusts after. Brown snags Jaynelle's Texas dialect and keeps it front and center throughout her sassy first-person defense of Grandpap, whom everyone thinks has taken leave of his senses when he allows the poorest family in town to live in the family homestead. It's only after Grandpap's death, when he leaves everything to the Pickenses, that Jaynelle learns the dark secret in her beloved Grandpap's past that led him to his charitable acts. T.B. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
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    Peer-to-peer usage: 
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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